Lists Make Life Easier, Right?

A List-Maker's Lament

Lists are supposed to make life easier

Some people pray before going to bed. Me? I’m an unrepentant list maker. Each night I type up and email myself a to-do list of tasks I need and want to accomplish the next day. And short of dire “breaking news” headlines, it’s the first email I read each morning. Lists used to make my life easier and keep me focused. But now I’m not so sure. Now they’re the source of anxiety. Please heed this list writer’s lament!

I keep grocery lists, “honey-do” chore lists, books-to-read lists, places-to-travel wish lists, holiday-gift lists (things I want to give and things I want to receive) and … Well, you get the picture. Some are on the computer. Some are handwritten.

The pleasure of handwriting makes tasks official, serious, and urgent. Handwritten checklists are plastered on the wall beside my desk, and in the kitchen on the fridge. They scream reminders to me and cheer me on when I get lazy.

Lists Lamentations

You can imagine my dismay this morning when I tore the last sheet of paper off my magnetized kitchen “to do” pad, and then, reaching into my desk, discovered I didn’t have a replacement!

How could I have failed to notice I needed more? How could I have failed to list list-pads on my shopping list? Man, just because there’s a global pandemic is no excuse for an error as grievous as this!

Sure, I could — and did — take some big sheets of paper and snip them into long, narrow strips to create a makeshift pad, but it was an inelegant solution to an essential organizational tool.

I sat down at the computer to order notepads ASAP and just as ASAP was overwhelmed. Type the words “magnetic list pads” into the Amazon search bar and I assure you, you will instantly experience that sensation Robin Williams depicted in the film Moscow on the Hudson when, as a Russian defector, he walked into an American supermarket and was overwhelmed at the sight of so many types of coffee to buy.

Choice is Good?

Instantly before my eyes, dozens upon dozens of note pads appeared — Super-sized. Fruit designs. Full magnetized backs. Lemon and olive branch patterned. Catchy sayings on top. Built-in penholders. Summer-themed. Navy and pink bordered. There was the Amazon Choice pad. The Amazon Best Seller pad.

So many sizes. So many colors and designs.

I started a list to sort through the options!

And I almost began reading the reviews to guide what now seemed a momentous decision. But I stopped myself.

“My God,” I thought. It’s just paper. Not a multi-dollar, big-ticket purchase. Get a life.”

And that is, of course, the problem. Life.

Too Much Time on My Hands

In the midst of Day 101 of sheltering in place, I have too much time on my hands.

Yes, I’m working. I’ve got a steady stream of writing assignments. Yes, I’m busy doing the usual wifey stuff — cleaning the house, grocery shopping (Well, shopping online), doing laundry. And I’m exercising, admittedly not as much as I should, but I’m trying.

But still, I’ve got a bit too much time on my hands, and that’s why I got caught in a crazy “what magnetized notepad should I buy?” quagmire today.

Still, Lists are Supposed to Make Life Easier, Right?

That said, I am a lifetime list-a-holic, and I know I’m not alone. I checked with my favorite consultant, Dr. Internet. The psychological and practical benefits of list-writing are well documented. I won’t list them out for you!

However, BuzzFeed did provide this handy and quick listicle to determine if you’re a compulsive lister! I, of course, aced the test!

My Brother, the List Master

List-making runs deep in the Galatz family DNA. My big brother Gil was a diligent lister. After he died, my sister-in-law, Elaine found one written more than five decades before among the papers in his desk. It detailed the criteria he “required” in his future wife. I won’t share the obviously private details, but man, was it specific. It was also pragmatic, not romantic, which was funny because my brother also had a romantic side. In any case, the list must have worked. The happy couple enjoyed 52 years together before he passed.

Always a List-Maker

Even as a teenager. I found writing lists calming. They gave me purpose, order, and a sense of accomplishment as I drew a line through tasks completed off. Of course, watching my successful, idolized 21-years-older big brother make and complete lists was my model. Yes, monkey see. Monkey do!

Now that I’m older I write lists to survive. My memory is not what it used to be. If I don’t write it down, whatever “it” is,  I’ll likely forget it. It’s maddening and one of the many things (oh, so many things) I dislike about getting older. But what can you do?

My List Purchase Quandary Continues

Meanwhile, back to today’s task. I’m still stalled over which Amazon list-pad to buy. So, I put three different options in the order basket. Tonight, after dinner, I’m going to show them to Handsome Hubby and ask his opinion. (Humm. I better add that to today’s “to-do” list or I’ll forget.)

Who am I? Asking my husband’s opinion about notepaper? I used to advise the US Secretary of State about policy toward the Soviet Union. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! And I’m not talking about the SU!

One Final List Observation! I’m Just Saying

And while this isn’t a campaign to get you to start writing lists, just remember Santa Claus writes lists. In fact, if you recall, he’s not only “making a list. He’s checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.” 🎶

Who knows? Maybe one of Santa’s gift-giving criteria is who’s a good list-writer and who’s not? You never know.

4 replies
  1. Andrea Serra
    Andrea Serra says:

    You are smarter than me because I just learned a couple weeks ago from my son that you can send yourself an email. I always thought that wouldn’t work. Lo and behold, it does! However, then you have to remember to check your email which I often don’t 🙂


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